The One With the Fortieth Birthday Party

by: Becky G.

This is my first fanfic, and I'd love to hear from you. E-mail me at: 

Disclaimer: These character do not belong to me, but to Bright, Kaufman and Crane.

Some required set-up: This story takes into account all the Season 5 episodes, up through the Thanksgiving one. It's March, 2009. Monica is turning 40. She still lives in the apartment we know, but now she is living by herself. Ross is head of paleontology at his museum, and although he dates, right now he is not seeing anyone. Joey has moved to L.A., and is currently filming a movie there--one that critics say is his "break-out" role. Chandler has been transferred to Chicago by his company, and he and Joey have not lived across the hall in eight years. Rachel lives in Long Island, and is married to a podiatrist. Phoebe is still a free spirit, and Monica's closest friend.

There's a slight spoiler for Season 5's Thanksgiving episode, so be warned if you haven't seen that one yet.

Oh, and call this an hour-long special. <g>

Scene: Monica's apartment. A birthday party is in full swing, with some music of the time playing. Gifts fill a table set near the door. Phoebe and Monica stand in the living room.

Monica: I can't believe I'm actually turning 40. It doesn't seem real. I don't feel forty.

Phoebe: I know. It's like, when I turned ten. I kept pinching myself, seeing if it was real.

Monica: (confused). How is that the same?

Phoebe: Oh, you know. Birthdays are always pretty much the same thing. (on Monica's puzzled look). Okay, maybe it isn't the same. But honey, you shouldn't worry. You don't look like you're forty.

Monica: What?! I wasn't worried, until you said that.

Phoebe: Ohhh...hey, is that Sarah? (she heads off)

Opening Credits: A bit slimmed down. These days all that's left of our group is Monica, Ross, and Phoebe. They manage to dance around that fountain quite gamely, however.

Scene: Where we left off.

(There is a knock at the door).

Monica: I'll get it. (She answers the door to reveal Ross, carrying a huge wrapped present). Hey!

Ross: Happy Birthday, Mon! (He hands her the present and comes in).

Monica: Where's Jennifer?

Ross: Oh, we uh, we kind of broke up.

Monica: Oh no! I'm sorry. What happened?

Ross: She uh, she and Ben didn't exactly get along very well. I think his exact words for her were "bug eyed bitch."

Monica: (wincing) Ooh. Why don't you have some tequila? I think Ed just opened another bottle.

(At this, the man in question walks up. He is about Ross' age, and good-looking. Picture Ed Harris.)

Ed: Hey, Ross. Where's Jennifer? (puts his arm around Monica's shoulders).

Monica: She's not coming.

Ross: We broke up.

Ed: Too bad, man. (suddenly realizing) I guess I should cancel our dinner reservations for Sunday then, huh?

(Ross nods and walks off)

Ed: How's my birthday girl?

Monica: Do I look forty to you?

Ed: (leaning in to give her a kiss) You look twenty-one and beautiful to me.

(Monica laughs but only returns the kiss half-heartedly)

Ed: (not noticing) In fact, you look beautiful enough to take back into your bedroom.

Monica: Ed, no! (but she laughs, in spite of herself)

Ed: Why not? I could give you your birthday present early.

Monica: I thought my present was something big that everybody had to see.

Ed: Well, I don't like to brag but...

(They laugh, and we see in that moment that Ed is deeply in love with Monica, but his feelings are not returned).

Time lapse--later in the party. Ross, Phoebe and Monica stand together talking.

Phoebe: Ooh, look! If you half-close your eyes, that guy by the window almost looks like Joey.

Monica: Phoebs, that guy is my head chef. He is *nothing* like Joey.

Phoebe: I know. I was just saying.

Ross: I wish he was here.

Phoebe: He's just by the window, Ross. You can go talk to him if you want.

Ross: No, not him! I meant Joey.

Phoebe: Oh yeah. Me, too.

Monica: I wish everyone was here. It's just not the same, you know?

Ross: I can't even remember the last time I talked to Chandler.

Monica: We had lunch the last time he was in the city. He said he was going to call you.

Ross: (shrugs) I never heard from him.

Phoebe: And Rachel. She *never* calls.

Ross: Well, she's got her big house and her doctor husband now, Gary whatshisname.

Monica: Do I detect some bitterness there?

Ross: (too vehemently) No! No, I--I'm glad she's happy. Really.

Phoebe: No you're not.

Ross: You can't even let me pretend for five minutes, can you?

Phoebe: (patiently) Lying, Ross. That's what it's called.

Monica: I just wish things could be the way they were, you know? I mean, I haven't talked to Rachel in over a year. I only see Joey in a movie theater. Chandler hasn't been to New York in two years. And the guy who lives across the hall now, he only comes over to complain that I'm slamming my door whenever I come home.

Ross: Yeah, but if things weren't the way they were, you wouldn't own a restaurant, Mon.

Monica: Yeah, but so what?

Phoebe: And you wouldn't have Ed.

Monica: (softly) So what?

(A young woman approaches. She's younger, not yet thirty, and works for Monica. Let's call her Cheryl. Picture Jennifer Love Hewitt.)

Cheryl: Hey, Monica! Happy Birthday!

Monica: Thanks.

Cheryl: (lowering her voice) So do you think tonight's the big night?

Ross: Big night for what?

Cheryl: Ed's gonna propose to Monica.

Phoebe: What?!

Ross: Oh my God!

Monica: No, he isn't!

Cheryl: Oh, stop being so shy. (she giggles)

Monica: I'm not, I'm not, really. I just...I don't think tonight is it, that's all.

Ross: You never told me you thought Ed was going to propose to you.

Monica: (glaring at Cheryl) Well, I was sort of hoping to keep it secret.

Phoebe: But why?

Cheryl: Because it's more romantic, of course!

Phoebe and Ross: Oh, of course, sure.

Monica: (to herself) Yeah, that's it.

Commercial break.

Scene: The party. Monica is opening her gifts. She sits in the armchair, with Ed perched on the arm beside her. Ross and Phoebe sit on the couch, passing gifts to her. Music is still playing, but no one is dancing; everybody is watching Monica.

Monica's head chef: Open mine next!

Phoebe: Which one is it?

Chef: The one wrapped in wax paper.

Monica: I should have known. (she opens the gift). Wow...Days of the Week Spatulas.

Chef: See, that way you'll always have one handy.

Ed: (peering over Monica's shoulder) There's no Sunday spatula.

Chef: Oh, see, that's the day you're supposed to wash them.

(A knock sounds at the door).

Phoebe: (jumping up) Oh, I'll get it!

(She crosses the room and opens the door to reveal Rachel. She is a mess, with her hair out of place, wearing wrinkled clothes and carrying a small suitcase. She has obviously been crying.)

Phoebe: Oh my God, Rachel!

Monica: Rachel's here? I can't believe she remembered today was my birthday!

Ross: Rachel's here? Rachel's here. Oh God...I mean, oh good.

Ed: Breathe, man. It'll be okay.

Monica: Rachel! (sees her closely) Oh my God, Rachel, what happened?

Rachel: Happy Birthday, Mon! (she tries to smile. The girls hug. Ross starts to put out a hand to Rachel, then draws it back. Ed nods approvingly.) I forgot to buy you a present, but I've got something much better for you. (throws her arms wide) Me! How'd you like a new roommate?

Time lapse--later in the evening. The party guests have already left, except for Ed.

Monica: What happened?

Rachel: We're getting divorced, is what happened. I left him. (turns to Ross) So, got any tips for me, seeing as how you've been through this twice?

Ross: (glaring at her) Yeah, never say that to anyone who's been through this twice.

Rachel: Sorry. I'm just...I never thought we'd end up like this.

Phoebe: Nobody did, Rache. You guys seemed happy together.

Ross: Not that *that* means anything.

Monica: Ross!

Rachel: What is that supposed to mean?

Ross: Nothing, I'm sorry. Really, I am. Do you wanna talk about it?

Rachel: No, not now. I just want to get some sleep. I feel like I haven't slept in months.

(Ed clears his throat.)

Monica: Um, Phoebe, can I see you for a sec?

(She and Phoebe go into the kitchen.)

Monica: Look, I know your apartment is small, but, I was, well, I was wondering--

Phoebe: Yeah, Rachel can stay with me.

Monica: Oh, thank you so much, Phoebs!

Phoebe: But now I'm not getting you anything for Easter, okay? This is it, as far as presents from me.

Monica: We don't give each other gifts at Easter, Phoebe.

Phoebe: Well, not anymore I don't.

(They start to leave the kitchen, then stop, watching Ross and Rachel, who are sitting on the couch, talking, although we cannot hear what they are saying.)

Monica: Just like old times, isn't it?

(Ross and Rachel begin to argue loudly.)

Phoebe: Ohhh yeah.

(A knock sounds at the door.)

Phoebe: I'll get it.

(She opens the door to reveal Chandler. He's carrying a wrapped present in one hand, and a bouquet of flowers in the other.)

On the audience cheering, we cut to a commercial break.

Scene: Where we left off.

Phoebe: Oh my God!

(Ross and Rachel stop arguing long enough to turn around.)

Monica, Ross and Rachel: Chandler!

Chandler: Wow, it's Monica's apartment, same as ever, only now in stereo sound!

Phoebe: What are you doing here?

Ed: Someone want to help me out here?

Rachel: Hasn't Monica told you anything? It's Chandler!

Ed: (sarcastically) I can see that.

Ross: He used to live across the hall.

Ed: Ah.

(Meanwhile, in the kitchen...)

Chandler: (handing Monica the flowers and gift) These are for you. Happy Birthday, Mon.

Monica: Oh my...(she takes them)

Phoebe: When did you get in town?

Chandler: About half an hour ago.

(Rachel and Ross come forward, and greetings and hugs are exchanged. Ed comes up, too, but slower.)

Ross: Chandler, this is Ed. Ed, Chandler.

(The two men shake hands.)

Chandler: And you are...?

Ed: I'm Monica's boyfriend. I live downstairs.

Chandler: Well, that's convenient.

Monica: (flustered) Yes, yes it is. (she raises the gift) Shall I open this now?

Phoebe: Yes, please!

(Monica opens the gift, to reveal two separately wrapped presents. She opens the larger one. It is a cookbook, one that just contains desserts.)

Monica: Oh, thank you!

Ed: Just what she needs. Another cookbook.

Chandler: I made sure to remove the page with recipe for kiwi lime pie, Ross.

(Everyone but Ed bursts out laughing. He stares at them, puzzled, while the others point at each other, saying, "Remember when...?")

Ed: Okay, okay. I guess you had to be there.

Monica: (stops laughing). Okay, what's this other one? (she shakes the box and it rattles)

Chandler: That's not your real gift. It's just something I thought was cute.

(Monica unwraps the present. It's a box of macaroni and cheese. She stares at it for a long time.)

Ed: Um, am I missing something here?

Rachel: Macaroni and cheese?

Ed: And that's a cute gift because...

Phoebe: Duh, because it's the cheesiest!

Ed: Oh, I get it. (confused frown)

Chandler: It's just something from when we first met. I guess it is pretty stupid--

Monica: No, it's not! It--(she stops, near tears)

Ross: (to Ed) She takes her macaroni very seriously.

Ed: Don't all chefs?

Monica: See, but that's what you don't know! I wouldn't even be a chef if it wasn't for Chandler.

Rachel: What?

(Chandler looks embarrassed, but pleased with himself.)

Ross: That's true. She told me.

Monica: The Thanksgiving we met.

Rachel: Oh. I guess I must have missed that part.

Monica: I think you were on the phone with Chip Matthews.

Rachel: (laughing) Chip Matthews! God, I haven't thought of him in years.

Monica: (laughing, too) I wonder whatever happened to him.

Ed: (not to be left out) Hey, you know, if we're not done giving presents, um, I--I've got one left to give.

Phoebe: Then go get it! What are you waiting for? Easter?

(Ed starts to speak, then composes himself. He gazes at Monica, who is still sitting at the kitchen table, holding the box of macaroni and cheese with one hand. He reaches for her free hand and drops to one knee. Rachel and Phoebe gasp and look at each in delight.)

Ed: Monica Geller, I love you. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?

(He digs into his pocket and comes up with a diamond ring. The diamond is huge, and smaller diamonds line the gold band.)

Monica: Oh!

Ed: Well?

(Monica looks up, at each of her friends in turn, then down at the box of macaroni in her hand. She is speechless.)

Ed: Mon?

Monica: I--I-- (she reaches for the ring, then pulls back)

Ed: I'm looking for something along the lines of "yes" here.

Monica: I know, Ed. I-- (she takes a deep breath). The answer is, I don't know.

Ross: Ouch!

Ed: Wh--what?

Monica: I don't know if I want to marry you, Ed. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel.

Ed: (angrily) Fine! (gets up and puts the ring on the kitchen table) Well, you let me know when you *do* know! (He leaves the apartment)

(Phoebe nudges Chandler and gives him a "say something" look).

Chandler: Hey, look on the bright side, Mon. When you do figure it out, you haven't got far to go to tell him.

Commercial break (how many of these have we had, anyway?)

Scene: The next day. Central Perk. Gunther, who by now owns the place, is behind the counter. Chandler, Monica and Phoebe sit on the couch. Ross is on the chair, and Rachel sits at the small couch across from him.

Monica: What am I gonna do? I mean, what am I gonna do? Someone tell me, what am I gonna do?

Rachel: Okay, Mon, heard you the first time.

Ross: Well, I'm thinking you need to figure out if you love Ed or not.

Monica: I do love him.

Phoebe: Well, there you go.

Monica: I think.

Chandler: (to Phoebe) Or not.

Monica: Oh God...

Rachel: Yes, we know. What are you going to do?

Chandler: Look, Mon, if you have any doubts, you shouldn't marry him.

Ross: Exactly what I was about to say.

Rachel: That doesn't mean anything. I didn't have any doubts about marrying Gary, and now look at us. Divorce city!

Chandler: Ah yes, divorce city. Recently ranked as one of America's more popular places to live.

Rachel: All I'm saying is that you can't tell how a relationship wil end.

Ross: I was just about to say that.

Phoebe: Yeah, but marriage. That's a pretty big deal. You don't want to be jumping into that unless you're really really ready.

Rachel: Or unless she's from England.

Ross: I heard that.

Monica: (making an effort to pull herself together) You know what? I don't want to think about this right now. I want us to just be together again, the way we were. I don't want to think about Ed, or you (points to Rachel) getting divorced or you (points to Chandler) going back to Chicago tomorrow.

Ross: We should--

Phoebe: We should just hang out, and talk all day, the way we used to.

Ross: My point exactly.

Time lapse. Set to the tune of "The Way We Were", we see a montage of the five of them, walking through New York, including Central Park and the streets of the Village. The last shot is of them in a deserted and darkened restaurant--through the window, we can read the sign, even though the lettering is backwards. It reads, simply: "Monica's".

Scene: Monica's restaurant. Phoebe and Ross are just departing in a cab. Chandler, Rachel and Monica stand in the lobby.

Rachel: You're sure we don't have to clean up?

Monica: No! That's what I pay people for, remember? (laughs a little, then throws a glance toward the kitchen)

Chandler: Tell me again how you got the money to open up a restaurant?

Monica: Well, my grandmother, the one who lives in Florida? She died a few years back, and I got her apartment, and a lot of her money. She turned out to be pretty rich.

Rachel: What about Ross?

Monica: What about him?

Rachel: What did he get?

Monica: He got her collection of false teeth and her condo in Florida.

Chandler: Oh, that lucky dog. Kind of makes your inheritance seem like small potatoes, doesn't it?

Rachel: (intrigued) Oh? A condo?

Monica: Yeah. It's right on the beach--got a gorgeous view. We try to go every summer.

Rachel: That's it. I'm never falling out of touch with you again. (yawns). I think I'm gonna go back to the apartment. You guys coming?

Chandler: Ah, no, not yet.

Monica: (handing Rachel the keys) Don't lock me out.

Rachel: I won't. And thanks for letting me stay with you tonight.

Monica: (laughing with fake cheer) Well, I certainly don't need to worry about Ed tonight.

(Rachel rubs Monica's back commiseratingly, then leaves.)

Chandler: You okay?

Monica: Yeah, sure. (smiles) Just like old times, right?

Chandler: Well, if Joey were here.

Monica: Yeah. Well, maybe next year.

Chandler: Right.

(They fall silent. Monica stares out the window, into the night. Chandler fiddles with a pen from the hostess' stand in the lobby, and drops it. In the silence the sound is amazingly loud and Monica jumps).

Monica: What?

Chandler: What?

Monica: Sorry, I thought you said something.

Chandler: Actually, I did want to say something. I, uh--

Monica: What?

Chandler: Okay. First, before I go any further and make a total ass of myself, I just want to say that I really had a good time today.

Monica: (smiling) Me, too.

Chandler: Uh, okay. I know this was ages ago, but, if you can, reach back into the mists of time, back to a time when we were all young and innocent, before the great Ross-and-Rachel saga began, when--

Monica: Just get to the point.

Chandler: Right. Okay. Back when Ben was born, do you, ah, remember what I said to you, in the hospital?

Monica: (uncertain) Maybe.

Chandler: If I recall, you almost took my head off, but I said something about how if neither of us were married at age 40, I'd marry you.

Monica: Oh.

Chandler: And I'm not married, and it seems you aren't yet, either. Although that might be about to change, and in that case, I'm a total jerk for saying this, but I did fly all the way here, so I might as well just say it anyway. (steels himself) So, Monica... (he takes a small black jewelry box from his coat pocket and drops to one knee) Monica, would you marry me?

On the appropriate woo-hooing from the audience, we cut to commercial.

Scene: Where we left off.

Monica: Oh!

Chandler: (unable to bear the silence) Now I realize the benefits of marrying me are slim, so let me--

Monica: You came all this way, just to ask me to marry you?

Chandler: Um, yeah. I--

Monica: I've only seen you three times in the past eight years.

Chandler: Yeah, see, about that, I was going to say--

Monica: Say what?

Chandler: If I was able to get an entire sentence out (looks meaningfully at Monica), I was going to say that I should never have left New York. I should never have left you.

Monica: (in a small voice) Oh. Then why didn't you come back before this?

Chandler: It was always something. My job, or, or, well, when was the last time *you* tried to get a flight of O'Hare Airport? It's tougher than it looks, you know.

(Monica is not amused).

Chandler: Look, all right. I'm sorry. This, this was pretty stupid of me. (He stands up). I think you could even call this the crowning achievement in a lifetime of stupidity. Can we just forget I ever said this? (he puts the jewelry box on the counter and backs away) I'll just, ah, go to my hotel now and raid my mini-bar. (he backs up until he hits the door and hastily turns around and leaves).

(Monica stands in the empty lobby of her restaurant for a moment, then picks up the jewelry box. In it is a single diamond engagement ring, simple yet elegant. She stares at it for a moment, then puts the box in her coat pocket and leaves the lobby. Through the window of the restaurant, we see her go up to Chandler, just as a cab pulls up. She takes his hand and gets into the cab with him, then the vehicle pulls away).

Scene: Monica's apartment, the next morning. Rachel is seated at the kitchen table, buttering some toast, dressed in a bathrobe.

(Monica enters, still in the same clothes she wore last night. She looks tired but happy).

Rachel: Monica! Where-- I thought you were still sleeping. (she looks behind her, but sees Monica's bedroom door is wide open). Oh. Well, where have you been?

Monica: Um, just out. With nobody. Doing nothing.

Rachel: You didn't stay and clean up at your restaurant, did you, honey?

Monica: (seizing on this) Yes! That's exactly what I did. Gosh, what a doofus I am! (she starts to walk into the living room, then stops) Oh, all right, since you asked!

Rachel: Huh?

(Monica comes back into the kitchen and sits down next to Rachel).

Monica: I have a problem, Rache.

Rachel: What is it?

Monica: I spent the night with Chandler.

Rachel: Oh. (suddenly realizing) Oh! That's great, Mon!

Monica: No! No it is not great.

Rachel: Okay, it's not great. Why?

Monica: He wants to marry me.

Rachel: Oh, Monica! That's gr-- Okay. It's not. But are we supposed to react to this?

Monica: I don't know.

Rachel: Do you love him?

Monica: I haven't seen him in eight years! Well, except for a few lunches here and there.

Rachel: You didn't answer my question.

(The door opens and Phoebe enters).

Phoebe: What question? Oh, morning Rache. Morning, Mon. (sees Monica's condition) Oh my, did we make up with Ed last night?

Monica and Rachel: No!

Phoebe: Okay, okay. No need to yell.

Monica and Rachel: Sorry.

Rachel: Monica spent the night with Chandler.

Monica: Rachel!

Phoebe: Monica!

Rachel: What!

Phoebe: Well, good for you, Mon. I'm glad you guys are back together.

Monica: Wh--what?

Phoebe: Oh, I know we weren't supposed to know, but come on, we all knew.

Rachel: What are you talking about, Phoebs?

Phoebe: You didn't know? Oh, then nothing! I'm just talking about nothing again.

Rachel: Mon?

Monica: I didn't think anybody knew. Back when Ross got married to Emily, for a short time Chandler and I had a relationship.

Rachel: Oh my God!

Monica: We ended it after a few months. (musing) I don't even remember why now. But I didn't think anybody knew.

Phoebe: Joey told me.

Monica: What?!

Rachel: You told Joey but you didn't tell me! I was your best friend, Monica!

Phoebe: He didn't mean to tell me. It just sort of slipped out.

Monica: Well, I guess there's no point in hiding it anymore, because Chandler asked me to marry him.

Phoebe: Oh no!

Rachel: No "oh no"! This is a good thing, Phoebs! Tell her!

Phoebe: But what about Ed?

Monica: I just don't know, guys. What do I do?

Scene: A week later. Central Perk. Monica sits alone on the couch. She holds a coffee mug in one hand, but seems to have forgotten she has it. She is lost in thought.

(The door opens and Ed walks in. He hurries to the couch).

Ed: Hi, honey.

(Monica is so surprised by this that she jerks, and coffee sloshes over her hand and onto her skirt).

Monica: Dammit!

Ed: Oh, God, I'm sorry. Here... (he grabs some napkins and starts to blot the stain).

Monica: Let me do that. (she takes the napkins from him)

Ed: Okay, that wasn't a very good start. I'm gonna try this again.

(He leaves, then re-enters the coffeehouse, this time without mishap. He sits beside Monica).

Ed: That's better. Now, how are you?

Monica: Fine.

Ed: You miss your friends?

Monica: Yeah, but you know, Chandler will be back in the summer, he said. And Rachel's just on Long Island. It's not like I won't see any of them again.

Ed: Uh-huh.

Monica: I guess you can figure why I brought you here.

Ed: Well, there's really only one reason, isn't there? (sighs) And since you didn't want to see me in your apartment, but in this public place, I think I can guess what it is.

Monica: I'm sorry, Ed. Really, I am. I just can't marry you. It wouldn't be right.

Ed: (sadly) I thought you loved me.

Monica: I thought I did, too.

(She gives Ed back his engagement ring, then kisses him on the cheek).

Ed: Um, I guess I better be going, then. (he stands up) See ya around, Monica Geller.

Monica: Yeah.

(Ed leaves).

(Monica is left alone. After a few moments, Phoebe comes in).

Monica: Were you standing on the sidewalk, or something?

Phoebe: No no--I just thought you needed--okay, yes, I was. Did you tell him?

Monica: Yeah.

Phoebe: Was it awful?

Monica: (starts to cry) No, not really.

Phoebe: Then why are you crying? (she rubs Monica's back).

Monica: I don't know.

Phoebe: Last night, when I went to bed, there was a spider on my pillow.

Monica: Excuse me?

Phoebe: And the last time that happened, was when Ben broke his arm on the monkey bars at school. So I knew something had to be up. I put the spider in a box and I went to set him free outside and--

Monica: Does this story have a point?

Phoebe: Yes! I'm getting there. So I'm trying to get this spider to go out my window, and he wouldn't. And then I realized why. There was a robin on the tree branch just outside my window.

Monica: And that's important why?

Phoebe: Because he was scared, see! And *then* I realized that meant I should drive my cab here today.

Monica: Because?

Phoebe: Because a robin is the first sign of spring, and there's a sign on the top of my cab...(she waits for Monica to "get it"). Anyway, so I drove here today, and I guess what I'm asking is, would you like me to drive you to the airport?

Monica: Why? Why would I want you to do that?

Phoebe: Because don't you have a plane to Chicago to catch?

Monica: Oh. Do you--do *you* think I have a plane to catch?

Phoebe: Don't you?

Monica: Maybe...

Phoebe: Well, you either do or you don't. Airplanes aren't very spiritual. Either they exist or they don't. So which is it?

Monica: (standing) I think I do. Don't you?

Phoebe: Yes, yes I do.

Monica: (suddenly panicked) I've got a plane to catch. Oh my God! I have to go pack! There's a coffee stain on my skirt!

Phoebe: No, no! There's no time for that. We have to go now!

Monica: Yes, all right. Let's go! (she grabs her coat and runs out)

Phoebe: Geez, some people just take forever to get it. (she follows Monica out).

Scene: Chicago. An apartment building similar to the one in New York. Monica stands in the hallway before number 24. She looks tired, but as pretty as we've ever seen her. She knocks hesitantly, then clasps her hands together.

(The door opens, and Chandler stands there, newspaper in one hand. He is clearly surprised to see her).

Chandler: Hey.

Monica: Hey. Can--can I come in?

Chandler: Sure, yeah. (he opens the door further and Monica walks in. The apartment is smaller than the one in New York, but neat and filled with typical bachelor-style furniture. We can recognize some of the posters, and tucked in the corner, lingered on briefly by the camera, is that horrid porcelain dog of Joey's).

Monica: I--I came to ask you something.

Chandler: Okay.

Monica: You left so quickly, we didn't really have any time to talk.

Chandler: I didn't think it would be good for me to stay any longer than I had.

Monica: I flew out here, so I could ask you...(she unclasps her hands, revealing that she is wearing the diamond ring Chandler got for her) If you would marry me, Chandler Bing.

Chandler: Wh--what?

Monica: You asked me to remember something. Well, I want you to remember something, too. The night you told us all that you were being transferred to Chicago? The night Joey decided to go to L.A.? I stayed up all that night, just walking around my apartment, crying.

Chandler: I didn't know that.

Monica: No. And you know, I didn't even know why I was crying.

Chandler: I'm sensing this is one of those "but I know now" kinds of things.

Monica: (putting her arms around Chandler) Yes, I do know now. You're not the only one who made a mistake eight years ago.

Chandler: Wait, wait. I know the answer to this one. You should never have let me go to Chicago.

Monica: Nope. I should never have broken up with you in the first place. After London.

Chandler: Ah, yes. That does make more sense. (looks down at Monica) So what does this mean?

Monica: It means that I love you. That I've always loved you, and that, if you'll still have me, I would be honored to be your wife.

Chandler: If I'll still *have* you? Monica, there hasn't been a day in over twelve years that I haven't wanted you.

Monica: Well, you have me now.

Chandler: That would appear to be the case.

Monica: So are you going to kiss me, or what?

Chandler: No no, I was. I just wanted to hear you say that.

(They kiss, slowly at first, then with rising passion. The camera backs away, then slowly fades out).

Closing Credits.

Scene: Monica's apartment. It's raining steadily, and Rachel is sitting on the couch, reading a trashy romance novel. The phone rings.

Rachel: Hello?...Monica, oh my God! Really? That's great!...Sure, I can do that--Oh wait, that's the call waiting. All right, call me back. (she switches over) Hello? Joey, hi!! Wait until you hear what's happened!

(A knock sounds at the door. Rachel gets up, still talking on the phone).

Rachel: Chandler and Monica are getting married! And hey, Joey, I've got a question. How come you told Phoebe that they were sleeping together, but you didn't tell me?

(She opens the door, and it is Ross. He is drenched and stands in the doorway, dripping water on the floor).

Rachel: Oh my God, Ross! (into phone) No, Joey, I know I'm talking to you. It's just that Ross just came over and he's all wet and he's--

(Ross steps forward and sweeps Rachel into his arms. They kiss, and the phone clatters to the floor).

Joey: (V.O.) Hello? Rachel? Ross? Hey you guys, this is costing me money. Hello? You guys there?